Currently, so-called “zombie homes” are plaguing regions of the United States. Homeowners find that these zombie properties are driving down property values as well as potentially attracting dangers. In an effort to combat this issue, lawmakers are beginning to strike back against zombie homes and the foreclosures that often lead to them.
What is a Zombie Home?
A zombie home is one that has been foreclosed on by the mortgage servicer by simply walking away and forcing the homeowner to move out, or a home that the owner has moved out of, ultimately leading the servicer to foreclose. The owner and community are left in the dark, receiving no notice of the event. What happens next? The homeowner and community must pay the taxes. This is not a pleasant occurrence for anybody involved.
Essentially, any home that has been vacated or abandoned is a zombie home, no matter the circumstances. No matter where the home is situated, it can cause trouble for those nearby.
The Risk of Zombie Homes
Zombie homes don’t just have a scary name; they also come with real consequences. When a home goes through a zombie foreclosure, it affects the entire community. Potential buyers and real estate investors are scared away by these foreclosures, as property values hit the ground.
Vacated and abandoned homes can lead to additional problems. Vandals and squatters may make a move on the home, causing serious problems to the interior, exterior, and structure of the home. This makes the neighborhood even more undesirable.
Fighting Back Against Zombie Homes
In Ohio, lawmakers are fighting against zombie homes that appear to be terrorizing communities. The result is a process for quicker and easier foreclosures. Rather than allowing for homes to sit for years, a new law could speed up the foreclosure process to six months. This would allow less time for squatters and vandals to take up residence in abandoned homes and cause problems for those who already live in the area or may want to purchase a home there.
Additionally, this law would help to ensure that families are not forced out of their homes. More evidence that a home has been abandoned will also be necessary for a foreclosure on behalf of the servicer, including boarded up windows, vandalism, and physical deterioration. This makes it more difficult to label a house as having been abandoned, making it less likely for other individuals to swoop in and take advantage of the situation.
Other states are beginning to follow suit too. As more communities realize the harm that zombie homes cause, they are calling on their lawmakers to make tough choices and combat the ease of servicers to leave the wreckage of their choices behind.
If you are interested in learning more about how you can combat zombie homes as a real estate agent, contact us for more information.